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PhD student position in the field of heterogeneously catalyzed C-H activation for organic synthesis. - Belgium  

Company managed [?] Still accepting applications

Posted on : 26 August 2017

Project Description


The main goal of this doctorate is the design, and characterization of hybridsingle-atom Pd(II) catalysts for the oxidative alkenylation of arenes and theoxidative C-H/C-H coupling of arenes. In case of success, this constitutes to a significant step toward the more sustainable production of fine chemicals. ThePhD thesis will be performed as a part of a large European Horizon 2020 project, in which world leading groups and companies for C-H activation, heterogeneous catalysis and scale-up are participating. Frequent project meetings as well as academic exchange and intense collaboration are beneficial for the successful candidate.

In the beginning of the PhD thesis, an initial screening of homogeneous catalysts to identify lead structures for heterogeneous catalyst development will be performed. The corresponding redox-active metal-organic framework (MOF) materials will be synthesized which contain structures in close relation to those of the best homogeneous ones. More specifically, the following objectives should be reached:

  • Synthesis of a highly active, stable catalyst (TON>1000) with minimal noble metal leaching
  • Regioselective activation of C-H moieties with or without a directing group
  • Elucidation of structure-activity relationships and detailed understanding of each step of the catalytic cycle

To reach these objectives, the successful candidate will have all possible support by the group leader (Dirk De Vos), post-docs and fellow PhD students. The strong expertise in MOF synthesis in the group will allow for facile synthesis of the desired MOF catalysts. Standard characterization techniques (XRD, N2-physisorption,SEM, FTIR, …) are available within the group for fast progress of the project. For more advanced techniques, such as XPS or TEM, a strong network is available that allows for facile access to these techniques. Reactions can be performed in small reactors that allow for performing several reactions simultaneously.All techniques and knowledge for evaluation of the results is available within the group. Completing a PhD thesis takes 4 years, which sets the timeframe of this project.


We are looking for a person with a Master’s degree in Chemistry, (bio)chemical engineering or related disciplines with excellent study results and a strong background in catalysis. A strong academic record, such as having prior research stays abroad or other research experiences, is a plus. It is also of great interest, if the candidate has further, complimentary skills, such as in advanced characterization techniques or classic organic synthesis.